If you are deciding to breed your finches it's recommended you are well prepared before you start. However, If your birds are already in the nest and laying eggs then hopefully this page will assist you in making sure you have what you need and also be prepared for any unforeseen circumstances.The below are guidelines only and I do ask that you also research the breeding habits of your finch species.
Before breeding please consider the following:
- Time. Breeding of finches will require a lot of your time and attention. Be ready for the unforeseen and make sure you have enough free time to focus on their needs during the breeding season.
- Holding Cage. Having a holding cage ready for the you young.. Depending on how many species you are breeding it may be necessary to also separate the Male and females. Doing this will remove any unwanted stress on the young.
- Young birds. Have a plan for the young chicks. If you are breeding to sell them, do the research and understand the buyers requirements. If you plan to keep and introduce them into your mixed aviary, ensure you have recorded their details by placing a leg band on the birds. This will also ensure you do not breed related pairs.
For information on Leg Bands please visit - Leg Bands
When choosing the male and female be sure to choose healthy, sexually mature, unrelated birds. Choosing birds that have paired is equally important.
Once you have run through the above and are happy with your selection you will need to get them into "Breeding Condition" Do not breed your finches if they are not properly prepared.
The finches diet should be high in protein, vitamins, minerals, and trace elements. Although protein is received through their daily seed intake, it is not normally sufficient for the breeding season. Additional protein is available through, Boiled egg, egg mix available from pet stores, meal worms and maggots. A multi vitamin supplement can be added to their daily water. At minimum ensure you have a cuttlebone at their disposal, shell grit it also available from mostly all pet stores.
Not all finches will breed throughout the year so you may need to further research the specific breeding season of your finch. Zebra Finches will breed throughout as long as conditions are acceptable. (Still follow the above steps) You can promote breeding of your finches outside the season through proper lighting, heat and humidity control.
There are two common types of Breeding methods used globally. Mixed or Colony Finch Breeding (Large amount of single species or mixed species in breeding prepped aviary) and Cage Breeding (individual pairs).
Mixed Aviary Breeding:
For those who have the Advantage of a large aviary and mixed pairs, please see below.
Breeding species in a communal aviary requires that your finches are compatible with their other inhabitants. It is also best to have a single pair of each species in the aviary. This also gives you a better control over breeding non related birds. Try to ensure you have a variety of nesting options and perhaps even go to the point of mixing finches that have different nesting needs and methods, you straight away reduce fighting between finches.
Follow the diet requirements as mentioned above, adding the foods to the aviary in separate bowls. Make sure you have read through the nesting options and provided a wide variety of options (Be in wicker nest, nest boxes or wire cages). I normally provide at minimum 2 nests per pair. Also investigate nesting heights. I have found that some birds prefer nesting at lower ground levels than others. Most professional bird aviaries include a shaded area providing protection from the elements.
Include the following in your mixed/colony aviary:
- Variety of nesting options and materials
- Plants / or any form of protection and privacy barriers. These will also be used as point of refuge.
- Shell Grit / Cuttlebone
- Food Station - Large or two individual stations is desirable
- Water Station - Large enough for the birds. I have 2 in my aviary, one on the ground and the other one at knee height. bothare changed daily by automatic system. try and protect the water by placing a cover above. This will prevent regular soiling of the water.
- Perches. Try to provide different perches options. I normally break off a nice piece from a tree that has lots of angles, thicknesses and even nesting points. This will also help in managing your finches toenail length.
You want to limit the amount of time you have to enter the aviary especially during the breeding season so try and be smart in you setup an placement of food and water. getting to close to the nest can scare off the birds and some species will not return if you inspect or go near the nest too often.
There are some disadvantages to breeding in aviaries. Some include the reduced control of breeding outcomes, certain finches will not breed in such an environment, injury can occur if non compatible birds are placed in the same aviary and aggression factors can arise.
Breeding finches in designated breeding cages is common when trying to focus on a specific species and or have greater control on the outcomes.
The general layout for a breeding cage includes the following:
- At least one perch (preferable two)
- One seed dish
- One Container for grit and egg shell
- Once container for soft food
- Nest box placed on the outside of the cage front with entrance above perch level
- Nesting Material appropriate for finch (Place some material in the nest and balance on cage floor away from areas of perching and possible soiling)
Average breeding cage sizes - 76cm L x 46cm W x 46cm H
Average nesting box Sizes - 12cm L x 10cm W x 17cm H
Add the male to the enclosure first. This will allow him to get associated with the surroundings. Add the female to the cage a few days later. Box Style breeding cages are preferred since all the walls are solid except for the front. This promote an element of security for the birds. Make sure direct access to light is available. If not use a full spectrum light on a timer. Gradual dimming of lights also help and allows the finches to get ready for lights out.
- Observe your birds, record the dates of laying. Use the below templates provided for data capture.
- If you are comfortable handling the eggs, candle them for fertility.
- Maintain suggested diet
- Do not provide any additional nesting material once eggs are present. This may excite the birds into abandoning and trying to nest somewhere else
Juvenile Star Finches - Photograph by Matthew Harris
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